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Old 03-20-2015, 01:10 PM   #1
1 Rivet Member
1973 29' Ambassador
Bethany , Oklahoma
Join Date: Jan 2015
Posts: 10
Advice: sealant first or polish first?

Hi there! My 1973 Ambassador has leaks. I plan to polish at some point so my question is this: Can I use sealant on the seams and Capn Tollys on the rivets now and then strip and polish later? Or will the strip and polish process ruin my sealant???

Aaron and Brittany
NEWBIE 30-something with a dream of finishing their first airstream remodel...please be gentle
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Old 03-20-2015, 01:23 PM   #2
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 1,899
The conventional process is to strip, polish, and then seal. But if you have 2 year's worth of work on the trailer before you get to the stripping and polishing, you had better get her sealed up right away, and just count on re-doing the sealing at some later point.

good luck!

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Old 03-29-2015, 02:28 PM   #3
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1986 34' Limited
1966 24' Tradewind
Conifer , Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 2,503
I picked off all the old silicone and caulk from my windows and vents. Then I stripped and polished the aluminum. The polish is an abrasive and it will pick up caulks and sealants and smear them all over your skins.

The trouble with this method is leaks. Maybe your trailer still needs a lot of interior work. Or maybe you can polish under a roof so rain water isn't an issue.

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Old 03-29-2015, 02:46 PM   #4
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1970 27' Overlander
1970 21' Globetrotter
Hamilton , Montana
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 67
How do you seal after polishing?
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Old 03-29-2015, 03:51 PM   #5
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1986 34' Limited
1966 24' Tradewind
Conifer , Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 2,503
Well, you gotta clean out all the seam and joints the best you can. There are many types of good sealants, silicone based ones not included. I like Acyl R, the same stuff I saw at Jackson Center. Then apply a small bead at the joints. Acyl R will wick in a bit.

It is tedious work. Rivets can work loose and leak too. Captain Trollys wicking seam sealer seems to work for those.

After you think you have it sealed up, get a high volume fan and use a "hillbilly" SelTec method of pressurizing the trailer, maybe through an outside storage door. Soap the seams and be surprised at all the leaks. Then try to seal up the leaking spots.

Airstreams are infamous leakers. The moisture rots the subfloor. Diligent leak detection with a moisture meter is an important maintenance activity.

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